South Africa vs. England, Fourth Test, Day 1 – Storm In A Teacup

It’s rather a shame that a pretty good day’s play of Test Cricket will more be remembered for an indiscretion off the pitch rather than the actual play on it, but then that’s what happens when such a high profile cricketer such as Ben Stokes has a less than cordial chat with one of the fans. There have been people all over the place suggesting at what might have been said to Stokes, but this is pure guesswork as only Stokes himself know what abuse was hurled at him and really the player should know better in getting himself into a situation that was a lose-lose. I imagine Mr. Stokes will be getting an invite into the match referee’s room at some point whereby he’ll be a few quid lighter and a demerit point or two heavier. Anyway enough about that nonsense, no matter how much it’s serialised by the journos.

As for the game itself, it proved to be a rather entertaining day’s play once the rain had cleared with either side in the position to claim that they won the day’s play or not. There were both positives and negatives for England with the main positive being that Joe Root called the toss right on the fourth successive occasion and the main negative being the loss of Jofra Archer to injury with the reoccurrence of his elbow injury. The bad trot of injuries that England have suffered on this tour can’t just be put down to bad luck (except that of Rory Burns) but more the fact the players are being continuously ground into the ground with this crazy schedule. I think we’ll all be happy if England return home without contracting Ebola or something similar.

On a day when there was a bit of cloud cover over the ground, Root chose the correct decision to have a bat when he may well have been sorely tempted to bowl and was handsomely rewarded by his opening pair who scored the first century partnership for England since Chennai in 2016. That it has been this long really does highlight the struggles that England have had at the opening slot for more than a while and the reason why we have so often seen England at 50 odd for 4 on more than a few occasions in the not so distant past. The pair of Crawley and Sibley complimented each other particularly well, with the former playing some majestic strokes against a wayward attack with the latter compact and able to put away the bad ball of which there were many within the first session of cricket we got. Zak Crawley indeed looks like a real talent and a gem of a find as he has got better and more confident with every innings he’s played and now looks like he is starting to believe he belongs in Test Cricket. In fact, he looked nailed on for a century before being hit by a nasty bouncer by Nortje, which in turn gave him a rather ugly egg on his forehead and certainly affected his batting after this. It would not be a surprise to see him declared with a concussion tomorrow morning as he looked particularly shaky after that nasty hit on the head. This is very much in marked contrast with Joe Denly who has admirably tried with every sinew in his body to adapt to the Test game but has never really looked like he belongs at this level. With Rory Burns hopefully returning for the Sri Lanka tour, then Denly may find himself out of the team with Crawley replacing him at 3. It will be interesting mind to see how much sway Clever Ed puts in Denly’s leg spinning filth on pitches that are likely to turn.

For South Africa, the 2 sessions couldn’t have been markedly different. In the first session they bowled too short and too loose on a pitch that was offering bounce but not much else. Indeed it seemed fitting that the only time they made the batsman make an error and play at a delivery they shouldn’t have; it was wiped out by Big Philander overstepping the mark. It was a sloppy session from a team bereft of confidence. However any thoughts that England could steamroller them were so put to bed with 2 quick wickets, firstly a horrible strangle down the legside that seems to get Sibley out too often and then a nothing play or leave shot from the brain frazzled Crawley. South Africa then bowled extremely tidily for the rest of the session with Denly who had looked all over the place the first to go, closely followed by a rare misjudgement from Stokes, who played an overly ambitious shot early in his innings which led to the frank exchange of opinions that I spoke about above.

So onto Day 2 with the match evenly poised. If Root and Pope can take the lead up to somewhere close to 300 then England will be driving seat; however a couple of quick wickets for South Africa could lead to England struggling to get up to 250. The forecast isn’t particularly clever for tomorrow, so we are likely to have another rain interrupted day.

On a final note, I did find it incredibly surprising that neither team picked a front line spinner. I understand that Bullring hasn’t been a great hunting ground for spinners over the years; however the pitch does often break up on Day 4 or Day 5 and so not to pick a frontline spinner seems negligent to me. The only time I would ever consider picking a team without spinner is if the pitch resembled the St. Lawrence Ground in early April or Sabina Park back in 1998! Time will tell if I’m right or not, but I have a suspicion both captains might be rueing their selection decisions by the end of the match.

As ever thoughts or comments are always welcome.


28 thoughts on “South Africa vs. England, Fourth Test, Day 1 – Storm In A Teacup

  1. Northern Light Jan 24, 2020 / 9:19 pm

    Since the ECB have ensured that I don’t really care about the cricket anymore, all I have to comment on is the Stokes business, sorry!
    He really shouldn’t be indulged this time and if he was Australian, I can’t even begin to imagine the invective that would rain down on him from England “fans.”


    • Sean Jan 24, 2020 / 9:21 pm

      Think that’s harsh personally. A fine and a demerit point is suitable enough punishment in my opinion.

      Yes it was stupid and no I’m not condoning it, but to throw the book at him for that would be ridiculous. He didn’t even look out of a window after all..


      • Northern Light Jan 24, 2020 / 9:52 pm

        I think what resonates with me wasn’t so much the language – we all swear from time to time after all – but the invitation to take the altercation outside the ground, where we can only imagine the scene between Stokes and the spectator. Or we might not have to imagine if we can recall that grainy CCTV footage from Bristol….. 🙂
        The boy needs some anger management. You can be a talented and competitive cricketer without being a minor hooligan. And right now Strokes comes across as a bit of an idiot.

        Liked by 1 person

    • dlpthomas Jan 25, 2020 / 3:30 pm

      I have it on good authority that the “four eyed cunt” had been abusing a gay couple in the crowd and Stokes was simply coming to their rescue.


  2. simpsonlong1 Jan 24, 2020 / 9:49 pm

    Just when I am warming to Stokes he opens his big mouth and spouts crap. It made him sound vicious and nasty and I wish he would not do it.


  3. simpsonlong1 Jan 24, 2020 / 10:05 pm

    I have just read that the fan called him an Ed Sheerhan look alike. I now understand his reaction……

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Quebecer Jan 24, 2020 / 10:44 pm

    Why is noone coming to Ed Sheeran’s defense?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Quebecer Jan 24, 2020 / 10:49 pm

    I didnt see Crawley get hit this time, but the way he hooks is a bit of an accident waiting to happen. Its not just that its off the front foot, but his right leg seems to plant not just infront of his right, but actually crosses over. I suppose its one of those typical get away with it in county cricket because theres noone that quick, but heabgoing to have to soet that out at teat level.


    • Quebecer Jan 24, 2020 / 10:53 pm

      Sorry, totally ass backwatds. His RIGHT leg ends up infront and crossed over his left. So its technically a back foot shot but hes put it infront of his front leg!

      Actually, i might be totally wrong as this is from memory whule I’m waiting on Twin Bs piano lesson to end.

      Maybe just ignore all this.


      • Grenville Jan 24, 2020 / 11:33 pm

        You can see the shot at around the 5:20 mark. He’s certainly on his front foot, but the right leg seems not yet to have come round in front of the left. I probably misunderstood you:


        • Sean Jan 24, 2020 / 11:50 pm

          Think this is a pretty fair comment and one which I do agree with


          • Marek Jan 25, 2020 / 1:22 pm

            …although Clever Ed doesn’t have to put any faith in Denly’s leg-spinning filth for SL, since Burns is still injured (he’s back in May, in theory). Unless it’s a shoot-out between that and Keaton Jennings’s medium-pace filth or we’re resuscitating the Bairstow at 3 idea.

            I’d be surprised if he gets the nod at over Crawley at 3 after that though…


        • quebecer Jan 25, 2020 / 12:12 am

          I was doing that from (increasingly poor) memory of the last time he got hit, but I think I was just wrong. It might have been he ended up kind of crossed legged last time because his front foot had come across a little more so when he twisted to hook he ended up totally unbalanced.

          But it is twice in two tests in pretty much the same way, so needs to be worked out. Mind you, he’s a brave boy.


          • man in a barrel Jan 25, 2020 / 11:22 am

            He didn’t seem to move his feet at all. He just stood there and waved the bat. If he had hit the ball he would probably have been caught at mid on


  6. dArthez Jan 25, 2020 / 9:43 am

    Quality bowling in South Africa probably means waiting until the tourists have a bowl.

    Then again what can one reasonably expect from a completely inexperienced bowling attack (bar Philander)? Even Sam Curran (with just 16 Tests) has more Test experience than the 4 South African bowlers (excepting Philander of course) combined have. Sure Rabada is missing, but Philander won’t be playing after this Test either.

    And what will happen once Faf, Elgar, and Philander (after this Test) retire? In a few years it will be considered an achievement for South Africa to have made it to the qualifying stage of a World Cup.


  7. dArthez Jan 25, 2020 / 9:45 am

    So you pick a 5 man bowling attack. So that Pretorius can bowl his 5th over in the 69th of the innings. Could have picked a batsman than who is capable of bowling the odd over of medium pace then.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. dArthez Jan 25, 2020 / 12:18 pm

    England already have too many for South Africa. I’d be shocked if they get more than 270 in the first innings.


  9. dArthez Jan 25, 2020 / 12:24 pm

    After Port Elizabeth 2019 (the Kusal Perera heroics), Faf wants to entertain us with a Stuart Broad 50 …


    • dArthez Jan 25, 2020 / 12:43 pm

      Stuart just fell 7 short from a well-deserved 50. But what brainless bowling by South Africa. AGAIN.

      Why am I guessing that it will be Broad + Wood 82/1, South Africa top order 80/4?


      • dArthez Jan 25, 2020 / 3:37 pm

        Seems that 80/4 was too pessimistic from an England perspective. 60/4 is all that South Africa could muster from the top 4.


        • dArthez Jan 25, 2020 / 4:08 pm

          And even fall of the fifth wicket at 80 is beyond South Africa these days, so clearly there is no reason to even contemplate playing 6 batsmen and a wicketkeeper …


        • dArthez Jan 25, 2020 / 4:20 pm

          They have done it. 5 specialist South African batsmen lost their wickets in the process, but South Africa have finally reached the dizzy heights of 82!

          Onwards and upwards (to total oblivion – either a loss by an innings and 50 runs or by 420 runs or so).


  10. man in a barrel Jan 25, 2020 / 1:32 pm

    I wonder if Specsavers will take the chance to cash in on their sponsorship… Leach yelling at Stokes that he looks like Ed Sheeran and Stokes yelling that he ought to get his eyes checked….


    • dArthez Jan 25, 2020 / 1:39 pm

      Alternatively, make the joke that it was actually Ed Sheeran batting, and that the spectator must need to get his eyes checked, because he did not realize it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. dArthez Jan 25, 2020 / 4:11 pm

    As for “onto day 2 with the match evenly poised” that might have held if England had already forfeited an innings. I have seen herds of sheep in the slaughterhouse put up more resistance than this cricket team.


  12. Marek Jan 25, 2020 / 4:36 pm

    Brief return of over-rate watch: unless I’ve miscalculated, they were ten short today. I know a lot of wickets fell, but….


    • dArthez Jan 25, 2020 / 4:49 pm

      To be fair, the best part of the match today for South Africa was the 1 hour delay caused by a wet outfield. That is just the only part of the day that England did not outperform South Africa, if only by virtue of play not being possible.

      So not sure how many they were actually short.


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